Nevada Legislature: Minimum wage increase has business support, labor opposition
Nevada business and labor groups are split over a proposed measure that would raise the state’s minimum wage but make it more difficult for workers to get overtime pay.
Republican Sens. James Settelmeyer and Patricia Farley presented SB193 to the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee on Wednesday.
The bill raises the minimum wage to $9 for employees without employer-sponsored health insurance and keeps it at $7.25 for other workers.
The measure repeals a law requiring employers to pay overtime after eight hours of work in a 24-hour period. It would only require overtime once an employee works more than 40 hours in a week.
Farley said most minimum wage workers rarely clock even 30 hours of work per week due to health insurance provisions in the Affordable Care Act. She said the bill would help low-wage employees take home more money.
She said that nearly 3.3 percent of Nevada workers make minimum wage, and the bill would affect nearly 6 percent of the state’s businesses.
Business groups testified in favor of the bill primarily for the overtime provisions, and asked lawmakers to modify or take out the minimum wage hike. Tim Wulf, who owns two sandwich shops in Reno, said the increase would force him to raise prices and cut back on employees.
“Increase the minimum wage, and you’ll have kiosks instead of cashiers,” he said.
Several union lobbyists testified against the bill, and said they supported the wage hike but were concerned the measure would allow businesses to take advantage of part-time workers.
“It takes a special measure for business groups to come out in favor of a minimum wage increase and for labor groups to oppose it,” Las Vegas Culinary Union lobbyist Yvanna Cancela said.
Democrats on the committee said they’re concerned that the overtime changes could lead to employers taking advantage of workers by requiring them to adhere to longer daily schedules without offering a full 40 hours a week.
Former waitress and Democratic Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton said she was concerned that raising the wage would put low-wage workers in the difficult spot of making slightly more than the threshold for medical benefits.
“I’m trying to figure out how the pieces of this puzzle fit together, so that we don’t pay people enough to lose the benefits they need,” she said.
Settelmeyer acknowledged that the measure could lead to some pay cuts but the majority of workers would see their pay go up.
Senate Democrats spoke out strongly against the bill, which initially only changed overtime calculations then was amended to include a minimum wage provision in March. The measure passed on a party-line 11-9 vote in the Senate.
The Assembly committee took no action on the bill.